NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presided over the historic and Great Feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan.
Many hierarchs and clergy of various Orthodox Jurisdictions participated in the Orthros (Matins) and Divine Liturgy and in the litany of the holy icons.
In his sermon Archbishop Elpidophoros said among other things the following:
“Your Eminences and Graces, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the joy of this First Sunday of Holy Lent is multiplied by the presence of so many Hierarchs of our Holy Orthodox Faith within the Altar – united in faith, in brotherhood, in solidarity of commitment, and in prayer. I am so very pleased that our Serbian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Romanian, and OCA friends decided to choose the unity of the faith today – to choose the spiritual fraternity and be with us here in our Archdiocesan Cathedral, in which the Episcopacy of our Holy Archdiocese is so well represented by the Metropolitans of Atlanta and Pittsburgh, our beloved brothers Alexios and Savvas, as well as the Chief Secretary of our Eparchial Synod, our beloved brother Bishop Apostolos.
All of these honorable clergy, together with the those of our Cathedral and Archdiocese, are gathered on this First Sunday of the Holy Fast to bear witness to the essential unity and integrity of what it means to be an Orthodox Christian.
Yes, we differ in jurisdiction; we differ in ethnic background; we differ in native language; we differ in customs. But the Faith that we confess is in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church! We believe and we confess the same Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. We share in the Same Eucharistic Meal – the Mystical Supper of the Lord. And we all look forward to the Same Glorious Resurrection of our God in His Holy Pascha.”
In another instance the Archbishop said: “Sometimes, I think that we get too caught up in our differences and forget that we are the same family. As the Ecumenical Patriarch has reminded us so many times: we are not a confederation of Churches but we are the Church! One family, one Γένος, one Eκκλησία – which means, as you know: ‘The Assembly of Those who are Called Forth.’”
Archbishop Elpidophoros also said:
“Well then, if we have all been called forth, what have we been called to do? What is our purpose, our mission? To preach, teach, and live the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is no accident that we gathered together today in this Cathedral. We are here for a purpose, to find our way to live in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the love of God the Father.
“We manifest our purpose here in the Divine Liturgy, sharing in the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord, and seeing in each other the fullness of God’s love for each and every one. If we say we love God, then we must love each other. If we say that we come to the Chalice for forgiveness and mercy, then we must offer forgiveness and mercy to each other as God does, unconditionally.”